Maple Field Milk – Birth of Hope

9th January 2016

Imagine this.  I am loading the van with crates of fresh milk at 6.45am on Monday 4th January.  The radio is on tuned to Radio 4 Farming Today.  I draw closer to the radio to avoid the lashing stairrods.  I hear the clear voice of Colin, our leader,  talking such utter sense about the Oxford Real Farming Conference about to begin in the town.  They give equal radio time to Colin and to the spokesperson for the Oxford Farming Conference.  Their differences are carefully and professionally dealt with.  As I handle the fresh local milk about to be delivered to the shops within 20 hours of milking, I feel stronger and as if I am on a path to somewhere.  Colin speaks so solidly about sensible scale farming businesses: to replenish the worn out soil; to have more people not less – I feel as though we are really part of something.

Then,  would you believe, to round off the perfect week, low, on Friday morning I am loading the van at the same time and I hear Ruth speaking so clearly and with such belief and urgency that once more I set off with the force behind me. Both our leaders speaking directly to us and urging us to go forth and farm and sell and bring this renaissance about. Needless to say, our customers got a good ear-full both days.

The Balmer Lawn Hotel in Brockenhurst is turning our cream into Balmer Lawn butter.  The George Inn, Fordingbridge are doing the same (all from their own ‘sponsored’ cow named Rosie).

We have been approached by a professional cheesemaker and teacher. His name is Paul Thomas (www.wheymaker.com). He finds our milk absolutely perfect because it is pasteurised at the correct temperature of 72 degrees C.  Any higher and the important enzymes are killed stone dead. He is teaching at All Hallows cookery school and at River Cottage HQ and will be promoting our fresh local milk.

The Brown-Swiss dairy cow is the most numerous on earth.  It is found all over North America, India and eastern Europe. Our seven (with little Hope) are wishing they were in India.  Even on our chalk terrain the pasture is turning into a cheese cake.  They can poke their heads into the massive Enclosure Act hedges that surround the plot and turn their rumps to the incoming stairrods.

I have been asked to help start another Futurefarms operation in Iwerne Minster, Dorset ……possibly with a dairy  to begin with. 2016 is going to be exciting.
Bail FM is playing our new favourite band – The Milk and the song is called ‘Deliver me’. Ruby and Faith (Brown-Swiss) look scornful and bored. They are used to much better .

Nick Snelgar

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